Dem senator: Syria still a 'national security nightmare' after Trump's airstrike
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyFive things to know about Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine  Senate Democrat says he will 'settle' for less aggressive gun control reform 'because that will save lives' Ernst on Russian buildup on Ukraine border: 'We must prepare for the worst' MORE (D-Conn.) ripped President Trump's airstrikes on a Syrian airfield, arguing last week's action didn't move the needle in the country's years-long civil war. 

"No one was surprised when the attack did nothing to change the reality of the dystopia creating civil war inside Syria," he said at a Council on Foreign Relations event. "No one was surprised that a political solution still seemed a billion miles away."  

He added that it's "still just as big a national security nightmare." 

Murphy, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is part of a bipartisan group of senators who have criticized the president for not getting authorization from Congress before launching the deadly missile attack. 

Murphy added on Monday that with the Trump administration's current refugee ban — which is currently on hold due to a court order — it is inhumane to carry out airstrikes.  

"So long as we have a policy of trapping those children inside Syria ... it is inhumane policy to bomb a country, setting off what we know will be some set of escalation and then having no process to help people get out," he said. 

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The U.S. struck a military airfield in Syria last week in retaliation for a for a deadly chemical attack that U.S. and other Western officials have attributed to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Murphy also took a swipe at the Obama administration's Syria policy, arguing over the past five years the United States has "prolonged the carnage."

"The middle ground that we are in today, where we are propping up this civil war and just waiting for the moment in which all of the things that we want align themselves ... just to me seems a fantasy," he said.   

He added that while the United States needs to be involved in combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and in the country's political future, it should "not believe that we are going to drive the political solution."  

Questioned about how he would solve the myriad problems in Syria, Murphy cautioned that "restraint sometimes is a smart policy."  

"America is the only country in the world that believes we can solve complicated political, social, religious problems on the other side of the world in places that we fundamentally don't understand. We still have this leftover hubris as a nation," he said. 

Trump administration officials have said they don't see Assad having a future in Syria, but they demurred when pressed on whether regime change is now part of the administration's strategy. 

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the administration has "multiple priorities," when asked about regime change on CNN  Monday.  

"I don't think that that's something for the United States to decide. That's something the entire international community has decided, that it's going to hard-pressed to see Assad in that leadership role," she added. 

Murphy opened the door on Monday to Assad potentially staying on during a transition, saying it wasn't an "unjustifiable price." 

"Would you take Syria in 2010 as trade for Syria today? I mean Assad is a terrible guy ...[but] we continue to present that there is this political settlement in which Russia and Iran abandon him," he said.